For two days leading up the New York trip, I sat in anxiety. I was to go with a friend I knew well, a friend I knew and a friend of a friend I had never met. Being the people-pleaser, a trait I work so hard to keep in check, I worried about it all: Going to my favorite city with others, was I going to be able to compromise and be easygoing about plans? Would I say I needed rest if I needed it, without feeling guilty? Would I be able to allow others to do what they wanted to in a city that I believed belonged to me and me alone?
Between grading on Friday and taking mental breaks, I got further anxious about it all. Each break a little more fear crept in. A part of me even negotiated a way to possibly get out of the trip. I had spent money on it and had booked the hotel in my name; there was no way out of this one, I quickly realized.
You see I have been to New York many times with many people and with too many expectations. It’s such a challenge to go there without expectations because each visit is filled with nostalgia about a time that I have completely romanticized in my life: grad school.
Saturday morning, I woke at 5:30am feeling tired and dehydrated. Just sleep on the plane and you’ll feel better, I told myself on the way to the airport. After a restless flight filled with another group of women my age going to NYC for the same purpose as me-to celebrate a birthday-I landed with one thing on my mind: sleep! I called the hotel the moment I got in a cab to ask for an early check-in. The front desk person gave me no hope. “You can leave your bags with us and walk around the city if you like,” he added. Defeated, I checked my bags and stepped out for breakfast. At first, I looked up breakfast on Yelp. Then I realized: wait! I’m in New York just walk around, you’ll find something. A block later, I found breakfast. This city is easy. Anything you want at your fingertips. I walked around allowing the cool morning breeze to soothe me. I found a secluded couch in the back of the hotel lobby and took a nap in front of everyone.
At noon, I got a text notifying me that the three of them at arrived. We met in the high-ceiling lobby covered in art from a times long past. It was crowded, yet silent. I walked towards them searching the crowd, with that weak feeling in the pit of my stomach. The moment I spotted the three of them, two of whom were so excited about it all, it went away–the weak feeling, the fear, all of it. We did everything New York! We braved Times Square during prime matinee time to watch Kinky Boots. While waiting to get into the show, we spotted Katie Couric crossing the street. With ease we sat down for a lovely dinner at Gennaro to share a bottle of wine and conversations about personal travel experiences.
The truth is I have lived my life for so many years in anxiety and yet, somehow the universe continues to present me with evidence of safety and security and most important, fun.
For two days, one night, four girls formed a connection. One that allowed independence at times, pillow talk, and laughter. We now have an experience that is the fabric of us, us alone.